Saint-Pierre-la-Garenne — A beluga whale that was in danger of losing its life in the Seine was pulled from the water early Wednesday morning as authorities worked to rescue it.
Extracting the 800 kg (1,760 lb) cetacean took him six hours and was witnessed by Reuters photographers and the marine conservation group Sea His Shepherd His France.
The pure white beluga swam almost halfway across Paris before local authorities confined it to a large lock system. It is now being transported by refrigerated truck to the Normandy coastal town of Ouistreham, where it is put into salt water locks.
Despite the success of the first phase of the rescue effort, there are still questions about the survival chances of the whale, which typically weighs 1,200 kg.
"Veterinarians are not necessarily optimistic about the health status of the beluga whales," Isabelle Dorliat-Pouzet, executive director of the department of Eure, told her BFM TV.
"It's terrifyingly thin for a beluga whale, and that doesn't bode well for medium-term life expectancy," she said.
In late May, a seriously ill killer whale died of natural causes after swimming tens of miles up the Seine and unsuccessfully attempting to return her to the sea.
In September 2018, beluga whales were spotted in the River Thames near Gravesend, east of London, for several days. This was the most southern sighting of beluga whales on the English coast at the time. Whales typically live in pods in Arctic coastal waters. (Reporting by Benoit Tessier, Camille Raynaud, Benoit Van Overstraeten; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Kim Coghill)